The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) released a statement urging swift federal action after antibiotic producer Achaogen filed for bankruptcy in mid-April, stating that it’s another example of the “steep economic challenges facing antibiotic research and development.”
IDSA says Achogen was one of the few remaining small antibiotics companies left and as the country faces a worsening antibiotic resistance dilemma, immediate measures should be taken by the federal government to support the innovation and availability of new drugs that can help stem the crisis.
“The Achaogen Board of Directors and management team have thoroughly assessed our strategic options and financial situation and unanimously agree that this structured sale process represents the best possible solution for the Company,” said Blake Wise, CEO of Achaogen in an April 15 statement, announcing the compnay’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “We continue to believe ZEMDRI® (plazomicin) has the potential to be a valuable component of a portfolio of anti-infective or hospital products and an important life-saving medicine for patients.”
Achaogen’s antibiotic—plazomicin, which can be used to treat serious infections – was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June 2018 and is of critical value to patients and to public health, said IDSA. But just like other manufacturers of antibiotics, Achaogen says it could not make a sufficient return on its investment because antibiotics are used infrequently and for short durations while new antibiotics are held in reserve to protect their effectiveness. IDSA said it fears this latest devolvement hurts chances that investors will risk supporting antibiotic research and development, despite the immediate and pressing need for these drugs.
As the number infections and deaths linked to drug-resistant pathogens keeps growing (exact numbers are still hard to come by), the list of hard-to-treat infections and diseases is growing, including a new super fungus that’s baffling the country, experts are urging fast and aggressive action or we risk facing a point of no return.
“Recent data shows that 162,000 people in the U.S. die every year from antibiotic resistant infections, making infections that don’t respond to existing drugs the third leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said IDSA. “With the current antibiotic pipeline insufficient to meet patient needs, this additional setback to the field comes at a time when the need for increased antibiotic research and development is urgent. Achaogen’s closing provides added evidence and must provide added impetus for new federal policies providing opportunities for companies to earn fair and reasonable returns on critical investments, stimulating antibiotic research and development, by and promoting appropriate antibiotic use through stewardship.”